Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary fails to turn up to club's grand final lunch
Written By DANIEL RAMUS
Speculation that coach Ivan Cleary is on his way out at the Wests Tigers has resurfaced, after he didn't turn up to the club's grand final luncheon.
Tigers players gathered at Le Montage restaurant in Lilyfield on Friday, but Cleary wasn't present.
Earlier this month, Cleary's son, Penrith halfback Nathan, signed a four-year multi-million dollar extension with the Panthers until the end of the 2023 season.
Given both Ivan and Nathan have previously stated their desire to work together, it appears only a matter of time before Ivan rejoins Penrith to link up with Nathan.
Ivan is contracted to the Tigers until the end of 2020
, but the joint venture may conclude his position is untenable and release him, given it's highly likely he's already agreed to coach the Panthers from 2021 onwards.
Journalist James Hooper said that while no other members of the Tigers' coaching staff turned up at the luncheon, it was odd for the head coach not to be present.
"It was interesting yesterday. The Wests Tigers had a grand final luncheon at La Montage, and read into this what you will, but the head coach Ivan Cleary wasn't there," Hooper told Triple M NRL
"Now, in his defence, nor were any of the other Tigers coaching staff. But at the same time, it does seem a little bit weird that you have grand final lunch (and the coach isn't there).
"I've been to those sorts of things previously and I have seen head coaches at those style of events.
"All the talk continues to swirl that (Ivan has) agreed with Penrith for when his Tigers contract finishes, and then the Tigers have got a decision to make about whether they're going to pursue a Michael Maguire, a Wayne Bennett, and they could decide that they're going to let Ivan go as early as November."
Interestingly, fellow panellist and 2003 Penrith premiership winner Ryan Girdler said he attended a Wests Tigers grand final luncheon in the last couple of years, and Cleary was there.
"I was at the Wests Tigers (grand final luncheon) either last year or the year before and I basically sat with Ivan," Girdler interjected with.